Top 10 Typical Thai Proverbs And Their English Versions

7 Jul 2022

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Every language has proverbs and sayings that are unique to their culture.  While on Koh Phangan you may hear one as the Thai’s have many! Here’s a list of the top 10 most commonly spoken one (as well as an English version of the same meaning) so you’ll know what they mean.

สีซอให้ควายฟัง (see sor hai kwai fang)

Translation:  To play the violin for the buffalo to listen to.

English version:  Talking to a brick wall. 

Meaning:  You’re wasting your time talking to a person that does not listen. 


หนีเสื่อประจระเข้ (nee seua pa jo ra kay)

Translation:  To escape from the tiger to the crocodile.

English version:  Out of the frying pan into the fire. 

Meaning:  Getting out of one problem just to find yourself in another even worse one.


ปิดทองหลังพระ (pid tong lang pra)

Translation:  Putting a gold leaf on the back of the Buddha image.

Meaning:  Do good, not for attention. 

ได้อย่างเสียอย่าง (dai yang sia yang)

Translation:  You have to lose something to get another thing.

English version:  You can’t make an omelette without breaking any eggs 

Meaning:  Regarding a situation in which it is difficult to achieve something important without causing any unpleasant effects.


ชั่วเจ็ดทีดีเจ็ดหน (chua jet tee dee jet hon)

Translation:  Bad seven times, good seven times.

English version:  Every cloud has a silver lining. 

Meaning:  Even in a bad situation, there is something good. 


น้ำขึ้นให้รีบตัก (nam keun hai reep tak)

Translation:  When the water rises, hurry to get some

English version:  Make hay while the sun shines. 

Meaning:  Take advantage of the opportunity to do something before it’s too late. 


จับปลาสองมือ (jab pla song meu)

Translation:  Catch a fish with two hands.

English version:  You can’t have your cake and eat it. 

Meaning:  You can’t have it all, you must choose one. 

ขวานผ่าซาก ( kwan par sak)

Translation:  Splitting a hard wood with an axe.

English version:  Calling a spade a spade. 

Meaning:  To speak honestly about something even if it isn’t what wants to be heard. 


แมวไม่อยู่หนูร่าเริง ( meaw mai yoo noo ra reng)

Translation:  When the cat is not there, the mice are happy.

English version:  When the cat’s away, the mice will play. 

Meaning:  If the authority figure is out, the subordinates do as they please. 

รำไมดีโทษปี่โทษกลอง ( rum mai dee tod pee tod glong)

Translation:  Those who can’t dance blame it on the flute and the drum.

English version:  A bad workman blames his tools. 

Meaning:  It’s the person's own damn fault but they blame something else. 


Keep Improving your Thai language

Living as an ex-pat and knowing the local language is a big advantage and increases the level of communication and interaction with the local community and authorities. The Thai people respect foreigners who showing knowledge of the Thai language for putting the efforts to learn it and will usually treat them back with respect.
To keep improving your Thai language you should try some Thai Language Courses, it is not as hard as it might seem, as there is a lot of logic and word combinations.
Before choosing a teacher it is advised to read the reviews, not just the average rating, to get a better feel of the tutor. It is better to select someone who is not far in age and seems to have similar hobbies and interests as you.

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